Unresponsive bladder cancer study shows promising results, co-authored by Karmanos urologic oncologist

Michael Cher, M.D., urologic oncologist, member of the Genitourinary Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and chair of the Wayne State University Department of Urology, co-authored a study outlining the results of a bladder cancer clinical trial recently published in the new journal, NEJM Evidence.

”IL-15 Superagonist NAI in BCG-Unresponsive Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer,” focused on a new treatment option that could effectively treat patients with non–muscle-invasive bladder cancer that is unresponsive to bacillus Calmette-guerin (BCG) treatment alone. Patients with bladder cancer already have limited treatment options. The researchers set out to find a more promising treatment. To address this issue, they combined the BCG treatment, which is a type of immunotherapy that is delivered to the patient directly in the bladder, with an immune cell activating IL-15 superagonist, with hopes they would work together to activate the patient’s immune system to reject and kill the cancer cells.

There are very few options for men with bladder cancer resistant to the standard treatments. The gold standard over the years has been remove the bladder and create a urinary diversion. This is a big operation, and the patient then has to live with a stoma. Recent research has highlighted several promising treatments that can save the bladder,” stated Dr. Cher.

The study showed that combining BCG with IL-15 can stimulate an immune response much better than alone. A high percentage of patients had a complete and durable response to the treatment.

“The IL-15 superagonist looks very promising. The response rate in clearing out the cancer seems quite high, higher than other existing and experimental treatments. We hope this approach will soon get FDA approval,” added Dr. Cher.

Read the study here.